“In any case, why won’t they shoot at armed white fanatics isn’t just the wrong question; it’s a bad one. Not only does it hold lethal violence as a fair response to the Bundy militia, but it opens a path to legitimizing the same violence against more marginalized groups.”
Ammon Bundy, following in the footsteps of his father Cliven Bundy, has created a national news story by seizing a nature reserve in Oregon. The armed protest started on behalf of two local ranchers who were convicted of arson after burning areas of federal land. The ranchers claim it was to combat invasive juniper from entering their land, but the federal government has disputed this and won in court in 2010. Though the ranchers do not support the occupiers, Ammon Bundy came to their aid to protest how public land should be used. The Oregon standoff has been a victim of the media, which has heightened a local issue to national attention overnight. But regional issues don’t serve up the same kind of quick media-fix that’s required for national attention. The issue most people have associated with this protest is the government’s use of force and perceived white favoritism. Twitter users juxtaposed the inaction of law enforcement against the white militiamen, while highlighting recent cases of police brutality against African Americans and even making claims about how different the response would be had the occupiers been Muslim. However, it’s worth noting that these are very different situations and are following the procedures of different agencies. The FBI is subject to different ways of doing things than local law enforcement. In the past, the FBI has confronted extremists with violence in Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas; both were major embarrassments and inspired the Oklahoma City Bombing. The question of “Why isn’t the government violently suppressing white protesters?” is inherently bad, and only legitimizes violence against marginalized groups.